This is the BEST explanation i've ever found....
The inklings at the gaming table...
I have some recent experience with playing Castle Ravenloft with a group of four 7- and 8-year-olds (my daughter and three of her guy friends). Yeah, there were a lot of pieces, but this seemed to excite them rather than act as a deterrent. I didn't include them on the un-boxing, though, which may have been a missed opportunity, but it made the process go faster. When we were ready to play, it looked a bit like this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fordsbasement/5462302095 (added it to the BB Pool)
Some tips for using D&D Castle Ravenloft with kids. Thanks to Nick Knisely for pointing it out.
So, I guess it happens in every father/son relationship. You know, the time when the child does something that defeats you and leaves you scratching your head. Kind of a combination between the Vader/Obi Wan "Now I am the master" moment and the Vader/Luke "I am your father" moment. I just didn't expect mine to come when he was seven.
We acquired the castle add-on for Heroscape the other day. (BTW, I've said this before, but if you have a child with the slightest interest in advanced games, Heroscape is a must-have.) In the included scenario, the defender gets a smaller force and the attacker has to take the flag on the battlement within a certain range of time. There are two ways to do this - by either using flying creatures to go over the wall or by using a huge, powerful land creature to batter down the door.
So I tell Brendan what the rules say about the door - that the person in control of it can open and close it at will during their turn, and we begin to play. I move a couple of huge creatures up against the door and start to pound on it. On his turn, he moves several missile troops down into the courtyard, then opens the door, fires through it to hit the guy pounding on the outside, and closes it again.
This boggles me completely. It makes no sense - you can't open the door and expect the guy who literally has his fists up against the door to stand there while he is shot and then wait for the door to close before pounding again. However, the rules seem to indicate this is perfectly permissible. I asked the question on Heroscapers.com, and the experts all said it was kosher.
Wow. That simply would not have occurred to me since it is unrealistic. My son is a better rules lawyer than I am. So begins the long defeat. I have passed the test - I will pass into the west and remain Daddy.
On Sunday, I had a mother who asked about a particular problem that seemed well suited to my expertise. Her son had rolled up a D&D 4th Ed. Character and gotten to the religion section. He then came up to her and asked, "Which god do WE worship?" I jokingly told her it was Pelor. It then occurred to me to put something together about Christianity in a similar format to the D&D books. Here's my stab.
Or the direct link is here.
Note that this is really a teaching tool, not an actual D&D supplement. I would share Tolkien's view that religions of the primary world do not work well when overlaid on a secondary world. Instead, the secondary worlds we create will reflect our primary values without the cheapness of full-blown allegory. (This would be a good full blog post later...)
As an avid gamer, having a son was very exciting - finally, someone to play wargames with! (yes, I'm being sexist here, and Brigid can play whatever she wants when she's ready to.) I had to wait through those less-interesting periods where the boy seemed uninterested (You know, infancy and toddlerhood.) But now that Brendan is seven, he has entered into the idea of wargaming with gusto. The question parents often have is, which games are good for younger kids? Which ones are simple enough but challenging, and are not so dependent on strategy that the child either becomes despondent from being whomped or the parent continually has to "Hold Back" and let them win. Although I have taught Brendan chess, it falls into that second category. Risk falls into the first category. Once you start to lose, it becomes very depressing very fast. So what games can challenge these kids, reward them for good choices, and let them have fun whether they win or lose? I've found two in the last year that Brendan and I really like.
The first is Smallworld, published by Days of Wonder. This game is a "German-Style" game like Settlers of Catan, in that the game play is carefully balanced. Even if you are losing, there is still a chance to catch up and the play remains interesting. It is a Risk-style conquest game, but the objective is to end up with the most gold. There are races and powers that are randomly-paired, so the gameplay is never the same twice. There are multiple boards for two, three, four, and five player games, so the balance remains fair. Races expand, then decline and you get to choose a new race, making it much more engaging throughout the game. If you have a gaming grrl, one of the expansion sets adds two additional female races (to the Amazons in the original set) to give better gender balance. This is an elegant and well-thought-out game. Brendan LOVES it, and probably wins one out of three games.
The second is the HeroScape system published by Milton Bradley. HeroScape is what I dreamed of as a kid. It has hexagonal terrain that you can build up like legos, and painted plastic figures. The storyline is that warriors are summoned from all places and times to fight a final Ragnorak-style battle. This means that all pieces are interoperable through a universal point value system. We have a D&D based set, a couple of regular master sets, and the Marvel universe master set. A typical game may end up with Captain America facing an Elven wizard or a dragon being surrounded by WWII Airborne infantry that drop onto the board during a later turn. The range of available figures is amazing. The rules are simple wargame miniatures rules highly reminiscent of D&D 3.5, including a parallel to the infamous "Attack of Opportunity." Brendan is really into this one, although since it is not as carefully balanced as Smallworld and requires a lot more variables, he wins maybe one out of four.
I'm really impressed with his tactical ability at his age. After all, he's playing a 39 year-old with a lot of wargaming experience. He sometimes sees options I simply don't. I just hope they don't come to take him away to Battle School...